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Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: rbuniv on November 19, 2006, 03:16:22 PM

Title: C. C. Rider
Post by: rbuniv on November 19, 2006, 03:16:22 PM
Since living in Texas for the last year and a half I have been pondering the song "C. C. rider" of  which there are many versions. It is the "C. C." which bothers me; I had never before wondered what that stood for but it is now my personal belief that it stands for Corpus Christi, a city (where I visit often) on the gulf Mexico, in Texas. When driving into Corpus Christi you see many sings such "C. C. Airport" also the lyrics of the song "My home is on the water, I don't like no land at all", has lead me to believe that "C. C." may stand for Corpus Christi.

Does anyone have a take on this? RB
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: dj on November 19, 2006, 03:27:36 PM
Quote
Does anyone have a take on this?

My take is that someone in a record company's A&R department wasn't familiar with black slang, didn't listen too closely to the song's lyrics, and so wrote C. C. Rider where See See Rider was meant.  And the error was passed down through the generations.

See See Rider was the earlier usage, appearing on a Ma Rainey record in 1924.  C. C. Rider didn't make its appearance until it showed up on a Big Bill Broonzy record ten years later.
 
Edited to add:

It's interesting to note that the title appeared in both forms on various Leadbelly records.
     
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: Bunker Hill on November 20, 2006, 12:22:19 AM
also the lyrics of the song "My home is on the water, I don't like no land at all", has lead me to believe that "C. C." may stand for Corpus Christi.
Back in the 50s when BBB was performing this song all over Europe a contributor to one of the jazz magazines suggested that this line indicated the spelling should be, Sea, Sea Rider...! I'm saying nothing. ;D
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: rbuniv on November 20, 2006, 08:44:42 AM
Hello again;

This song has been recorded by Ma Rainey, LaVern Baker and Mance Lipscomb under the title of "See See Rider". Under the title Of "C. C. Rider" it was recorded by Big Bill, Elvis, Chuck Willis, Ray Charles, Jimmy Reed, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Mitch Ryder, Bruce Springsteen and The Grateful Dead. I'm sure my list is not complete on either end but it still makes me wonder what the "C. C." stands for. It is unlikely that a record company would have come up with this on The Big Bill recording, I would however believe that it could have happened with Ma Rainey's title but I am not insinuating that it actually did. Perhaps B. B. B. intentionally titled his song as C. C. Rider which may have had some intrinsic meaning, maybe "Corpus Christi". Other lyrics from Big Bill refer to going to the border and Mexico which leads me to think he could have spent some time in Texas and and found his own rider to write a song about.

RB
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: Stuart on November 20, 2006, 09:14:31 AM
FWIW, in his interview with Studs Terkel (Folkways FG 3586), BBB says that there was a person who went by the name C. C. Rider. "My home is on the water" refers to his living on the transport vessels that carried goods and freight up and down the Mississippi. He puts the date at 1909-1910.
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: waxwing on November 20, 2006, 09:34:54 AM
Unfortunately, I think you have to take anything Big Bill, or most of the other players who were interviewed in the rediscovery era, with a huge grain of salt. I mean, John Hurt once said Spoonful was about...coffee.-G-  As you said, FWIW.

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: Pan on November 20, 2006, 10:03:17 AM
I think Waxwing has a point in that Big Bill shouldn't be trusted too much as a source of historical facts >:D.

Two more theories I've come across, that haven't been mentioned yet.

- C.C. Rider means "Church Circuit Rider", this supposedly is referring to a travelling preacher (!).
- C.C. Rider used to be a train.

Pan
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: Stuart on November 20, 2006, 12:20:16 PM
Pan and Waxy:

It's just another source of information that I thought that I'd mention. The "FWIW" qualified it. However, I don't think that we should completely dismiss it right off the bat, as it is part of the greater body of "legend and lore" (misinformed as it may possibly be) surrounding C.C./See See Rider.
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: Pan on November 20, 2006, 01:38:34 PM
You are quite right, Stuart.

At least this comes from someone who should know, if anyone.

FWIW there's also a theory that C.C./See See Rider is just a misinterpretation of "Easy Rider".

I doubt we'll ever know for sure.

Pan
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: Bunker Hill on November 21, 2006, 11:47:14 AM
About this time last year a similar discussion was raging on a traditional music discussion group. It went around the same sort of routes as above and never came to a conclusion. However, there was some input from Chris Smith which i thought interesting and worthwhile keeping. FWIW here it is:

Certainly, Ma Rainey's 'See See Rider' was widely influential, and the pertinient words got changed to 'Easy Rider' and 'C. C. Rider' when other people covered it, but the phrase 'easy rider' was around before that process could start to happen; Ma recorded 'See See Rider' in 1924, and Shelton Brooks's ?Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone? was published in 1913 or so. Handy?s band were playing ?Mama don?t allow no easy riders here? in 1909. On the other hand, Big Bill Brooonzy said he was inspired to play fiddle in 1908 by a guy nicknamed ?C.C. Rider? because ?See See Rider? was his song. It seems both ?easy rider? and ?see see rider? were current terms in song and speech by the first decade of the 20th century.

What follows is about 'Easy Rider' rather than 'C.C. Rider', but: looking into  Handy's 'Yellow Dog Blues' (for a discussion of 'on the hog' in my next  'Words Words Words' column for Blues & Rhythm), I found that in 'Father of  the Blues', Handy writes: ?I undertook to answer the question raised by  Shelton Brooks in his remarkable hit, ?I Wonder Where My Easy Rider?s Gone?. The country had gone stark, raving mad over the sweet-loving jockey with the
easy ways and the roving disposition. I proposed to pick up Susan Johnson and Jockey Lee, Brooks' characters, in a parody of the original lyric...The sheet music of Brooks's song, which was written for Sophie Tucker to sing, is online, from collections at Brown and Duke, via http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/. Its rather weak lyrics appear actually to be about Jockey Lee not being at the race track, with no sexual innuendos or double meanings apparent (though who knows what message may have been put across in live performance?) DARE's first citation is of Handy's song, but Brooks seems to have got it into print first. The phrase was around before Brooks's song was published, of course, and seemingly with the sexual meaning absent from his use of it. Handy says elsewhere in 'Father of the Blues' (and DARE fails to notice) that 'in the fall of 1909 I often used to visit [Pee Wee's] cigar stand to write out copies of the following lyric for visiting bands: "Mr Crump won't 'low no easy riders here [et cetera.]"'It seems that Brooks took the expression 'easy rider', already current in black speech, and used it as the basis for his innocuous lyric. The popularity of his song and Handy's answer song may nevertheless have helped to spread its use. The definition of 'easy rider' as 'a guitar' seems to have been made up by Rudi Blesh in 'Shining Trumpets'; Paul Oliver says he has never heard a blues singer use the phrase in that sense, and the only other example in DARE seems to be derived from Blesh.
Title: Re: See, See Rider
Post by: uncle bud on February 18, 2009, 07:41:57 AM
This has more to do with the song "See, See Rider" as a whole than the meaning or variations of its title, but I figured I'd add it here anyway. Listening recently to Ma Rainey's "See, See Rider", I was struck by something that I'd never taken notice of before. The song has a three-verse intro. The song is generally spoken of as traditional, but this seems very Tin Pan Alley/theatrical to me:

I'm so unhappy, I feel so blue
I always feel so sad

I made a mistake, right from the start
Though it seems so hard to part

Oh but this letter, that I will write
I hope he will remember when he receives it

See, see rider....

And the song goes into the tune we're so familiar with. It's a fabulous performance, of course, but it strikes me that, musically, the whole thing is something one could almost imagine Sophie Tucker or a like singer performing. The band even does a very poppy IV/IV minor thing in the second 4 bars. The melody itself sounds rather "composed" to me, at least in the context of the jazz band backing on Ma's record -- and her fabulous and rather theatrical singing on this record.

Sandra Lieb in her bio of Ma (Mother of the Blues: a Study of Ma Rainey) says this mixture of blues stanzas with popular song forms was introduced by W.C. Handy. She notes some Classic Blues use this formula of a non-blues intro followed by a 12 bar blues form, often traditional.

So while Ma Rainey was the first to record See, See Rider, it's still taken to be traditional. I guess my question is, how is it traditional? Are there previous non-recorded versions that have been documented? (I'm setting aside any possible relationship between "Wonder where my easy rider's gone" songs and "See, See Rider" for the purpose of this question. Perhaps they're related, but proving that is probably akin to nailing Jello to a wall, and more about the meaning the text anyway.)

So is there a folk lyric that was collected earlier than Ma's 1924 recording, or something? Is it simply the fact that it's a 12-bar song that makes it "traditional"? Or to put it another purely speculative way, is there anything to suggest this isn't a Handy-era composition by a professional musician perhaps lost to history?

Title: Re: See, See Rider
Post by: uncle bud on February 18, 2009, 07:54:11 AM
I forgot to mention that, again according to Lieb's book, Lena Arrant is the composer credited in the copyright for See, See Rider, but Lieb specifies that she is in fact only responsible for the intro. Suggesting the intro is indeed tacked on. But I guess the question still stands as tacked onto what?
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: Mr.OMuck on February 18, 2009, 12:19:42 PM
List of Arkansas railroads
The following railroad s operate in Arkansas . ? Defunct railroads : Caddo and Choctaw Railroad Central Railway of Arkansas (CofA) ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_defunct_United_States_railroads (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_defunct_United_States_railroads)
  There is also the dual meaning of "C" meaning "SEE" which would add the additional meaning of something like"Witness your infamy" to Caddo & Choctaw rider.
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: dj on February 18, 2009, 01:13:40 PM
Quote
tacked onto what?

I'm all together serious when I say: if we could answer even a few questions like that, we'd have a much better understanding of the origins of the blues.

Thanks for pointing out the opening verse and Lena Arant's authorship of it, uncle bud.  I suspect that this, like a lot of early professionally written blues, is a folk tune "prettied up" and made to more closely conform to the pop sensibilities of the day.  But we'll likely never know for sure.   
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: uncle bud on February 18, 2009, 02:08:50 PM
Quote
tacked onto what?

I'm all together serious when I say: if we could answer even a few questions like that, we'd have a much better understanding of the origins of the blues.

Thanks for pointing out the opening verse and Lena Arant's authorship of it, uncle bud.  I suspect that this, like a lot of early professionally written blues, is a folk tune "prettied up" and made to more closely conform to the pop sensibilities of the day.  But we'll likely never know for sure. 

Yes, however there must be something that makes authors call this song traditional. One can point to some songs existing prior to recorded versions because they've been noted in early field research or published in sheet music etc. Finding a partial answer, I see David Evans in Big Road Blues refers to Poor Boy A Long Way From Home, Take a Whiff on Me, and See, See Rider as being documented in "early printed sources" but that all he says, no source noted. I can find Take a Whiff on Me and Poor Boy in Odum and Johnson, The Negro and his Songs. But I don't see - ahem - See, See Rider.
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: Pan on February 18, 2009, 02:16:55 PM
Since the song form was brought up, it's interesting to note, that while Rainey's version was 12 bars long (with a verse), many early country blues musicians played this song rather as 16 bars long.

Big Bill Broonzy muddies the waters again, since, according to Bunker Hill's post below, he has claimed to know a musician called "C.C.Rider" who wrote the song.
I have a 1950's European live recording, where Broonzy credits the song to Ma Rainey -and proceeds to play the 16 bars long version.
And on this discussion someone is saying that Broonzy also has said that the 16-bar "See See Rider," not the 12-bar "See See Rider," was the old way of singing it:
http://groups.google.com/group/rec.music.country.old-time/browse_thread/thread/a0b7a33c152aa31d/2fbe06a24bf10807?lnk=st&q=16-bar+blues&rnum=1

 :-\
Title: Re: C. C. Rider
Post by: uncle bud on February 18, 2009, 02:23:52 PM
Lemon plays a 16-bar form in his Corinna Blues as well.
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